Chico Planning Commission denies hotel request – Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO — The hotel’s disputed plan for Highway 32 and Bruce Road was overturned Thursday in a 3-2 vote by the Chico Planning Commission after a long period of public comment.

Commissioners Rich Ober, Paul Cooper and Dennis Dermondi voted to reject Continuum Hospitality’s application for a Marriott hotel on the grounds that it did not meet all use permit guidelines against the city’s 2030 master plan, while that President Toni Scott and Commissioner Larry Wahl voted against the denial. Commissioners Bryce Goldstein and Lindsay Poulin were absent from the meeting.

The hotel’s plans have been challenged by community members throughout the California Park neighborhood, which is home to mostly seniors, and this was evident at Thursday night’s planning commission meeting with a full house and 21 public comments denouncing the location proposed by the company.

In the hour before the 6 p.m. meeting, hotel opponents gathered outside Chico City Council chambers wearing matching shirts reading “No Hotel” and placing signs with the same slogan in the bushes surrounding the steps leading to the bedrooms.

Among the crowd was Sandy Goulart, a California Park resident and longtime spokesperson for the movement against the hotel.

Goulart had files full of information about the neighborhood, which she says has a history of planning for seniors and their needs. Its concerns were shared by most stakeholders throughout the public comment period.

This included fears of a potential fire and what evacuations would look like with the hotel there. At Thursday’s meeting, Police Operations Captain Billy Aldridge responded to those concerns by saying he had worked with the county to implement a zone program for the area, but added that he couldn’t control how a business, like a hotel, handles its evacuations.

Other concerns related to roaming guests at HOA-funded amenities, such as the nearby lake and trails in the area, water usage, on-street parking on private roads, and limitations that it would tax on land that was previously intended for services for the elderly living in the area.

“Their plans for the corner of Sierra Sunrise Terrace was a place where businesses could meet the needs of the community,” Goulart said, referring to markets and other services that could go there. “Not only is the project incompatible with the founders’ vision, but it is also incompatible with Chico’s license to use and the general plan.”

Janet Pearce, president of the California Park Association, chastised a comment made by the candidates earlier in the meeting that the hotel would be good for seniors who have family visiting.

“The hotel will be a reminder that people’s children aren’t coming to visit,” Pearce said, before calling on applicants to consider changing the corner for the hotel to one across the street.

Tim Donahue spoke on behalf of the residents of California Park asking the commission to listen to them and trust their experiences as people who live there.

“These people have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it the beautiful community that it is and they don’t want to see it go away, they want to keep it going,” Donahue said. “Listen to these people. These people live here. There are people in Sierra Sunrise who have lived in Chico all their lives.

Back at the commission, Ober and Dermondi expressed concerns shared by the speakers, Ober adding that he felt the hotel could be built elsewhere.

“It’s a great place and it’s a special place,” Dermondi said of the neighborhood. “That’s why I’m very sensitive to what some people have said and feel it’s affecting their health, safety and well-being.”

The applicant will have until August 1 to appeal the decision rendered by the commission.

Comments are closed.